The Tibbs Reader: 1851

June 1, 2017 Leave a comment

Elijah Pangborn and a woman.

Fort Conifer, 27th September, 1851.

SIR,— Having in my report, dated at the Pendleton River on the 10th June, and addressed to Sir A. von Klacik J. Grant, communicated the details and result of my spring journey over the ice, snow, and slippery little frosts along the Lankville Boreal Shores, I have now the honour to acquaint you that the boats expedition under my command, which visited the Great Polar Ocean this summer, arrived here yesterday in safety, but I regret to say without having gained any information of Sir J. Tibbs and party.

The morning of the 4th August being lusciously fine and clear, land was seen in one or two directions in which it had not been previously noticed, and bearings were taken of it. The islands were bereft of all flora and fauna although we did then discover a small satchel of groceries upon the shore of the nearer which did contain therein curious canisters of beans and many empty bottles of diverse spirits. The young ice did not thaw until after the tenth hour after which, by great perseverance, we made very tolerable progress. Working all night, and sometimes aided by the sails and the burner, at 7h. 15m. a.m., on the 5th, we landed on the Western shore of Heinish Bay, and after staying 3 hours again probed on; but the ice being thinner, and consequently more closely packed on the shore, we had great difficulty in making headway, and were at last obliged to wait the rise of the tide at a point in Krimpett Bay.

We remained here 3 hours, and had an interview with a party of Region Natives. Our interpreter, a Region Native named Whapcornuck had intercourse (verbal) with this tribe who did report the presence some time ago of a large white man holding a sphere to the heavens on many an occasion.  We then again commenced creeping along the shore, and had proceeded but a short distance when we did discover a rounded sphere of pine-wood which excited feverish interest and seemed to corroborate the account of these savages. In appearance it was remarkable– nigh so perfectly spherical as to appear other-worldly. It had a curious mark, resembling the letters “t” and “d” and apparently stamped upon one side, and at a few feet distant from the globe there was a bit of white line in the form of a loop nailed into a crude cross with two copper tacks. Both the line and the tacks bore the Ninth Republic Government mark, the broad arrow being stamped on the latter, and the former having a red worsted thread running through it.

We had not advanced a 1/2 mile when another sphere was discovered lying in the water, but touching the beach. This was a piece of oak, perhaps 9.0-9.5 inches in diameter and uniformly round. The sphere had the appearance of having been pushed into or through a clasp or band of iron, as there was a mark of 3 inches broad across it and small pocks and dents which circumnavigated the mysterious orb. And it was also discovered, quite nearby, the remaining part of a stanchion (as I suppose it to have been) which had been formed in a turning-lathe, and was 3 inches in diameter.

As there may be some difference of opinion regarding the direction from which these globes of wood came, it may not be out of place to express here my own opinion on the subject.

From the circumstance of the flood-tide coming from the northward, along the Eastern shore of Upper Craughing Land, there can be no doubt but there is a water-channel dividing Upper Craughing Land from The Northern Cloister, and through this channel I believe these globes have been carried along with the immense quantities of ice that a long continuance of northerly and north-easterly winds, aided by the flood-tide, had driven southward. I shall here opine that this same flood-tide carried forth the satchel of groceries. The ebb-tide not having power enough to carry these items back again against the wind, the large bay immediately S. of Medium Craughing Strait became perfectly filled with ice, even up to the S. shore of Northern Cloiser Land. Both orbs of wood appear to have come to shore about the same time, and they must have been carried in by the flood-tide that was at the time flowing on during the previous ebb ; for the simple reason, that although they were touching the beach they did not rest upon it.

The spot where they were found was in lat. 61′ 49′ N. ; long. 98° 17′ W.

I have the honour to remain,

Sir, your most obedient servant,

Elijah Pangborn

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Reveries of a Solitary Lurker

May 31, 2017 Leave a comment

By Otis Nixon

Today there is more recollection than creation in the products of my imagination, a tepid languor saps all my faculties, the vital spirit is gradually dying down within me, my soul no longer flies up without effort from its decaying prison of flesh, and were it not for the hope of a state to which I aspire because I feel that it is mine by right, I should now live only in the past. The solitary lurker is an agent of the past; in his lurking, he embodies the past; this is the aspect from which society turns its head. Thus if I am to contemplate myself before my decline, I must go back several years to the time when, losing all hope for this life and finding no food left on earth for my soul, I gradually learnt to feed it on its own substance and seek all its nourishment in the act of lurking.

The country was still green and pleasant, but it was deserted and many of the leaves had fallen; everything gave an impression of solitude and impending winter. This picture evoked mixed feelings of gentle sadness which were too closely akin to my age and my experience for me not to make the comparison. I saw myself at the close of an innocent and unhappy life, with a soul still full of intense feelings and a mind still adorned with a few flowers, even if they were already blighted by sadness and withered by care. Alone and neglected, I could feel the approach of the first frosts and my failing imagination no longer filled my solitude with beings formed after the desires of my heart. Sighing I said to myself: What have I done in this world? I was created to live, and I am dying without having lived.

God is just; his will is that I should suffer, and he knows my innocence. That is what gives me confidence. My heart and my reason cry out that I shall not be disappointed. Let men and fate do their worst, we must learn to suffer in silence, everything will find its proper place in the end and sooner or later my turn will come.

Daytime is a curse. The sun its accomplice. I pray for dusk knowing all the while my prayers have no effect on the rotation of the heavenly spheres. Yet, I pray for the cloak of night; the cover under which I may lurk with my sordid memories. Away from their prying eyes; but not they mine.

PEOPLE OF LANKVILLE: There’s a First Time for Everything

May 31, 2017 Leave a comment

Brock Belvedere

LDN: What is your name and what do you do?

BB: My name is Brock Belvedere, Jr. and I was a journalist.

LDN: So, I guess I’ll get right to the point, Brock. People really want to know if you’re dead or not.

BB: I am.

LDN: Seems impossible.

BB: There’s a first time for everything.

LDN: What’s dead being like?

BB: It’s alright. It’s really hard to get anything good to eat though. The only options are fast food subs and candy. And there’s no water. Just sodas.

LDN: Have you had any luck trying to convince girls to go out with you? I know you’ve gone as high as offering to pay 75% of all expenses.

BB: It’s tough. I have an unusual face. Takes some getting used to. But sometimes they come around. I did recently get a haircut.

LDN: It looks the same as in your photograph.

BB:  Yes. Your point?

LDN: Anything else you’d like to add?

BB:  My sudden death has been difficult on my dear mother. And, unfortunately, the backwards thinking wretches at the Pizza A’Round are no longer allowing her to spend eight hours in the dining room while I run errands. The blatant ageism is quite shocking in our supposedly advanced society.

LDN: Alright.

The interview collapsed.

The Tibbs Reader: Skipper Tibbs

May 31, 2017 Leave a comment

Photo believed to be Skipper Tibbs as a young man.

Tibbs sat in the dark hotel room and watched the lights of the nearby ballpark flick off slowly. There was a light mist on the window.

He opened the leather-bound hymnal and removed the browning newspaper clipping. For the thousandth time, he read it.

Mrs. Mary E. Tibbs, wife of Skipper Tibbs, died June 30, aged 29 years. Mrs. Tibbs escaped from the State Hospital for the Insane at La Hardy on the night of June 29 and on the morning of June 30, was found in the park, the arteries in her left wrist severed and nearly dead from the loss of blood. She died the afternoon of the same day. Deceased had been a terrible sufferer for many months from blood poisoning and melancholia and the best of medical attendance found no remedy to relieve the diseases that slowly but surely sapped her life and mental faculties away. She leaves a husband and two small children to mourn her early death, to whom the sympathy of the entire community is sincerely and lusciously tendered.

Tibbs returned the clipping to the hymnal and placed it in the side drawer of the end table.

He went down to the lobby. Rolly, the young reliever, was sitting in a chair looking at travel brochures.

“Engaging in the corruption of reason, I see,” Tibbs said.

Rolly stared at him blankly.

“Skip, I…I was thinking of getting myself a little place in the desert. See, they got these little trailers there. I could use my signing bonus.”

Tibbs reflected on this.

“To live alone, one must be either a maniac or a God,” he finally proffered.

Rolly stared at him blankly.

 

Young Tibbs was in the locker room polishing the bats. The players began to enter one by one.

“HELLO!” the child boomed to each. “WHAT A DELIGHTFUL DAY FOR A BALL GAME!”

The players stared at him. Castleman, the second baseman, picked up his bat.

“Christ, the damn thing will be too slick to swing. What the hell are you using?”  He stared down at the yellow metal container by young Tibbs’ side.

“I AM PREENING THE WOOD. THESE BATS ARE THE HAMMERS OF THE IDOLS!”

“There’s something wrong with that kid,” Schmitz whispered.

 

Skipper Tibbs knew very little about his father. The man had been a drunk. He had once driven his farm tractor into the barn, knocking away a supporting beam. The tractor held up the barn for many years afterwards and nothing had been planted. “Things just got completely out of hand,” he explained. “I prefer not to know many things.”  He then disappeared into the attic.

His mother died of a disease of the kidneys and he had been sent away from the Snowy Lake District to La Hardy at age 8. His brother Harry was 14. They had taken a local short line to a desolate wooden shack of a station and waited there eight hours in the snow. They had seen nobody until nearly night when a railroad man dressed in faded overalls had emerged from the woods and urinated into the snow. As he urinated, he gyrated strangely. Then he went back into the woods.

Skipper walked over. The man had written his name in pee. “Wendell.”

 

The team lost 5-0. It had misted the whole game.

“If we look backward,” Tibbs commented, “we will begin to believe backwards.”

“Got to have some way of measuring time,” Douglass commented.

“I’m glad you are engaging with a formula for happiness, Douglass,” Tibbs noted. “There may be hope for your record after all.”

 

Young Tibbs had hollered the entire game keeping up the loud, booming chatter throughout. The men began to inch away from his perch at the far dugout wall.

Dressen, the umpire, finally walked over.

“Keep that kid’s trap shut, Tibbs,” he called.

Skipper Tibbs laughed.

“Need I explain, Dressen, how the boy fascinates his audience? He will be a physician, a savior and you will see that tomorrow in the blinding daylight.”

Dressen stared blankly.

 

The Tibbs Reader stories will continue in future issues.

The Tibbs Reader: Schmitz and Douglass

May 30, 2017 Leave a comment

Douglass about 1936.

It was during the Second Great Lankville Slump of 1936 that two fading, alcoholic pitchers named Schmitz and Douglass were assigned to a lower-level club in the Southern Hill Area.

Both were bachelors. Both were unrepentant inebriates. They split a series of dark rooms above a musical instruction studio on Main Street and were awakened each morning, heads throbbing, by the incompetent twang of student guitarists or the flatulent toot of student trumpeters, always and inevitably followed by the hysterical voice of Sternweiss, the owner and teacher.

Schmitz and Douglass were both ugly men- another commonality. A sportswriter had once referred to the pair as “resembling lurking undertakers”. Both were scrawny and not particularly athletic in appearance with angular features, hook noses and perpetual dark stubble.

It was during a May game against the Basin Area that Schmitz was knocked out of the box early, the end-game being a mammoth three-run homer that cleared an abandoned farmhouse a hundred feet beyond the left field wall. The small crowd razzed him mercilessly.

When Schmitz repaired to the cramped, ill-lit clubhouse, Douglass was already waiting, half out of uniform.

“C’mon, let’s blow this bing.”

They drove around for awhile, putting down four beers each, then stopped and bought a bottle of Old Lankville. Eventually Schmitz parked in back of a four-story brick Women’s Hospital.

“All kinds of thatched cottage in that place,” Douglass commented.

“Yeah, but it’s all diseased.”

Douglass thought about that.

“Well, maybe not the nurses.”

“I concede to your counterpoint,” Schmitz proffered.

 

The next day both Schmitz and Douglass expected a chewing out but instead they found that Bragan, the old Island skipper had been fired or had left on his own accord (the matter was never made clear) and a grim little man named Tibbs had been named as his replacement.

Tibbs seemed to derive no pleasure at all from the game. “I’ve told my boys to go into the hotel business,” he said during his first audience with the club which took place in a ceaseless mist during the pre-game batting practice. The park was silent and eerie– no one had bothered to put the lights on. “This here game is no manner of lifestyle. I was in the big league for six years, boys, and even THAT was no manner of lifestyle. Yessir, this game is a nugatory amusement in the most cosmic of direct essences.”

“The hotel business is a grand tradition,” Tibbs said suddenly, after a long pause. His uniform fit him poorly and his striped socks sagged as though they were pulled down by some great weight. He then launched into a long history of innkeeping which he kept up at various points throughout the entirety of the game that followed that evening.

The next night, Tibbs’ son served as bat boy. He looked nothing like his father– he was round-faced, cheery and loud, booming a series of exhortations with each pitch. When the aging slugger Moss homered in the 5th, the boy was sent into a series of nigh-diabolical spasms of joy and was the first to greet the startled Moss at the plate after the obligatory rounding of the bases.

“WHAT A DELIGHT!” he chortled in a voice unnaturally deep for a 10-year old.

Schmitz, drunk, entered the game in the 7th with the score tied 4-4. He struck out a 35-year old opium addict who had once played centerfield for the Capital Bats, then walked two straight and permitted an infield single. Tibbs made his way slowly to the mound as twilight emerged and the lighting flicked on erratically. Moths gathered beneath the dim illumination. The crowd murmured oddly.

“Schmitz,” Tibbs said when he finally reached the mound. “There is no reason for any of this. I’m speaking metaphysically.”

He spat, turned around and walked back to the dugout.

Schmitz proceeded to allow a grand slam home run to the number eight hitter.

 

They were driving around again. “I don’t have anything left,” Schmitz said. “My drop pitch and fade away are gone.”

Douglass thought about that. “You could start loading the ball. Nobody gives a damn.”

Schmitz spit out the window as the cattle fence posts whizzed by.

 

In the clubhouse the next day, the trainer Weintz, a stone bald man whose only remedy for anything seemed to be an alcohol rubdown, had an old copy of The Lankville Baseball Register. Some of the players were looking up Tibbs’ record.

“Batted .314 one year,” Castleman, the second baseman, noted. Schmitz stared at the small printing. It meant nothing to him. He couldn’t read a word.

“Noticed that,” Weintz said. “Even hit .290 in his last year. Wonder why the hell he gave it up?”

Tibbs came in then. He wore a crumpled black suit and a tie. The tie had a cactus on it.

“Well boys. Let’s hustle out to the field. Not that there is any conceivable reason for us to do so. This is everyday being for death.”

The clubhouse emptied into another light mist.

 

It was Douglass’ turn to get hit around. He started and went 3 innings, allowing 8 runs.

“Sorry, skip,” he said, as he handed Tibbs the ball in the 4th. “My fastball didn’t have any zip on it tonight.” He watched as a fresh-faced kid who had joined the team that day jogged in from the bullpen.

“Pitching is just a self-projection upon the actual possibility of being in the world, Douglass,” Tibbs said. He rubbed the ball with his small hands. “Douglass, you need to delimit your range of experienced phenomena.”

“I’m ready skip!” the kid reliever yelled. He was shaking.

“Didn’t you hear what I just said about delimiting your range of experienced phenomena?” Tibbs barked at the rookie.

Douglass walked off slowly to jeering.

 

“I ain’t got anything left either,” Douglass said. They were driving around at night again.

“That umpire was squeezing you,” Schmitz noted.

“Who was that guy? Looked familiar.”

“That was Dressen. You remember Dressen?”

Douglass spat out the window and pulled on the beer.

“Dressen, from the old Interstate League,” Schmitz continued. “You should remember him. He hit a moon shot off you back in ’32. God damn thing hit the Lank-Buoy sign on the building across the street from the park. Longest ball I ever seen.”

“Why do we always drive by this same cow pasture?” Douglass asked after a long silence.

 

Tibbs sat in his room at the hotel. There was a picture of his two boys on the end table. He picked it up and stared at it.

They were both in full Child Scouts regalia. Gump on the left, Lorne on the right. He put the frame back on top of the lace.

“Children have a vulgar concept of time,” he said aloud to no one.

 

 

The Tibbs Reader stories will continue in future issues.

 

Categories: The Tibbs Reader

Reveries of a Solitary Lurker

May 30, 2017 Leave a comment

By Otis Nixon

A recent event as sad as it was unexpected has finally extinguished this feeble ray of hope and shown me that my earthly destiny is irrevocably fixed for all time. Since then, I have resigned myself utterly and recovered my peace of mind.

All my efforts were in vain and my self-torment of no avail, I took the only course left to me, that of submitting to my fate and ceasing to fight against the inevitable. This resignation has made up for all my trials by the peace of mind it brings me, a peace of mind incompatible with the unceasing exertions of a struggle as painful as it was unavailing.

They were so eager to fill up my cup of misery that neither the power of men nor the stratagems of hell can add one drop to it. Even physical suffering would take my mind off my misfortunes rather than adding to them. Perhaps the cries of pain would save me the groans of unhappiness, and the laceration of my body would prevent that of my heart.

I glance at my watch, knowing already the time. Polish off my Lankbrau and step into the street. Take three longish steps in the direction of a hedge. Mutter to myself “Sweet Melissa” then “hum” then “pleonism.”

PEOPLE OF LANKVILLE: Things Have Been Hard

May 26, 2017 Leave a comment

Mr. Egg during better times.

LDN: What is your name and what do you do?

ME: My name is Mr. Egg.

LDN: …and what do you do?

ME: Well, things have been hard.

LDN: Tell us about it.

ME: Well, I recently became a cripple.

LDN: Not sure if that word is the proper…

ME: …listen, if you want to start up with your political politeness, then find another god damn giant egg to interview.

LDN: You’re the only one we know of.

ME: Exactly. So, shut your mouth or I’ll shut it for you.

LDN: Go on.

ME: As I was saying before you cut in like a horny teenager at a school dance, I recently became a cripple. Me and a couple of other guys went out one night and we tied a few on. We’re walking around afterwards, singing some loud folk songs, pissing on a few trees, you know, the usual, and the next thing we know some guy pops out of a bush and attacks us.

LDN: And he crippled you?

ME: Hey, listen. You want me to finish the story or do you want to keep on with your god damn prattle?

LDN: Go on.

ME: Anyway, he about cut Ken’s head off. Well, I went running onto this darkened street and the next thing I know, I get hit by a car. Guy driving was drunk. I think a couple of minutes later, he drove into somebody’s house. Put a pretty good size dent in the damn thing, if I remember correctly.

LDN: Do you get Lankville Invalidity payments?

ME: Yeah, but that’s a drop of piss in a bucket of piss, if you know what I’m saying. Bucket of piss and shit.

LDN: Never heard that expression.

ME: They say it all the time down in the Southern Basin Area.

LDN: Were your parents eggs?

ME: Shut the fuck up.

LDN: Is it hard being an egg?

ME: You can put a top hat on perfectly. Fifty mile-per-hour wind won’t even blow the fucker off.

LDN: Anything else?

ME: Nah. What else would there be. Now, fuck off.

SCHROPP INVESTIGATES- THE COTTAGE CHEESE INDUSTRY

May 25, 2017 Leave a comment

By Brian Schropp

After a very, very long absence it’s good to be back writing for The Lankville Daily News. Not only is this a full time gig (making a sweet $7.16 an hour) but I have been given a brand new column!! The fine folks who run this paper wanted a new perspective on cuisine- a more brash, harder look at the food scene. I promised them I was their guy for this sort of thing.

The other big change was saying good bye to my full time position at ‘The Pizza-A-Round’. I knew it was going to be a striking loss for the place, me, being one of the most innovative employees ever to work there. I thought, Scott, my manager, would be very understanding, especially since I was making sixteen more cents a hour. Well, I was very wrong about my assessment of the situation and not only feared for my life at various times during my two week notice but also the safety and well being of my fellow co-buddies and the customers (not to mention the various holes made into walls and pizza-related equipment destroyed). Everything worked itself out my last day there. After a very hellish eight hour shift in which Scott seemed to peak in his fury (not going through one but TWO Assistant Managers in just that shift) he came up to me very calmly with tears in his eyes my last hour there. “Hey Bri, I just wanted to say–” he almost broke down at this point “sorry I couldn’t match the extra sixteen cents the paper is giving you. It’s been a real pleasure having you here.” At this point he grabbed my right shoulder. “And if you ever need any help, I mean- ANYTHING, you come see me–pizza brother.” By now he was squeezing my shoulder a bit too hard causing extreme pain and wetting myself a little. But I knew his sentiment to be true, we had some amazing adventures together, little did I know at the time we weren’t done just yet!!

Scott Pizzaman- a great friend and ‘pizza brother’

So the next day it was time to get down and dirty and start my first article for my new column. A pressing question soon arose after my 10 AM breakfast- what should it be about? After being kicked out of the house by my folks (who have NO IDEA that a reporter can work from home) and riding my motorized mini scooter (oh yes, dear readers, another bit of news, I was able to secure a Lankville mini scooter license which I can use only around the Deep Northern Suburban area) the idea hit me all at once. In recent weeks the Deep Northern community has been talking about folks among us getting terribly ill after eating. No one has quite been able to pinpoint exactly what it is making people sick but one common thread seemed to be cottage cheese somewhere in the meal. Well, being an investigative reporter now, I had a hunch on who might be to blame. That’s right, Hank Cameron, the so called General Manager of the grocery chain ‘Foodville’. I parked my mini scooter a few blocks away from the store and crept my way up and into the establishment. Lady Luck was on my side when I saw ‘Mr. Cameron’ already by the cottage cheese and pulling them off the shelves with assistance from his low-level flunky, Benny. Hank seemed pretty animated and upset so I crept behind a display of Vitiello Decorative Hams to get a closer look.

Cameron- “This whole cottage cheese thing is going to ruin the business!”
Benny- “Yup.”
Cameron- “These dolts that live in this godforsaken area use it in everything-fruit salad, taco salad, shrimp salad, any type of salad really.”
Benny- “Yup-yup.”
Cameron- “What disgusting people. I’m just going to return this to the factory and get credit for a new order. No one is even certain it’s the cottage cheese anyways–”

Hank Cameron– so-called manager.

This was all of the conversation I caught as I suddenly fell forward and toppled the Decorative Ham display. I was promptly removed from the premises.

So maybe, but highly unlikely, this fool has nothing to do with selling bad cottage cheese. I knew the factory he was talking about, it was right on the outskirts of the Deep Northern area but I had no way of getting over there because my license didn’t go that far. What could I do?!! I rode around on my mini scooter until the battery ran out (by then, it was early evening). Then the answer came to me, it was right there all along, I had a ‘pizza brother’ I could call on.
Scott was more than enthusiastic to help me out. After explaining the situation he grabbed the keys to his ’87 Neptune and a handgun from the top drawer of his office desk. “Come on Bri, the damn Cottage Cheese Industry has done enough not only to this fine community but to my family personally, it’s time to get answers. Don’t worry I’ll explain on the way.” We were leaving a pretty busy dinner rush at ‘The Round’ but that was no concern of my mine anymore! (And even though it had only been a day it looked like the cleaning standards had gone totally downhill).
On the way over Scott tried to explain to me the personal reasons behind his hatred for the industry but honestly he had the radio up way too loud on his new favorite radio station 103.5 LDNS ‘Home Of The Heaviest Of Metal’ so I couldn’t hear. It seemed to be just incoherent babble between bottle swings of vodka but who knows- he might have had a legit gripe.
The radio was turned off as we made our way up to the factory on the outskirts of town, the sun was setting picturesquely behind it. After parking in the employee lot, I questioned how we were going to get inside. “We are just going to walk into the processing part and take a look around” Scott said while checking his gun and then putting it in his waistband. “And God help any fool who tries and stops us!”
I also had my camera on rent from the paper. I checked to make sure the film was in properly and then joked, “I’m locked and loaded as well!”
Scott just grunted and off we went. The employees leaving their shift for the day gave us some weird looks while we advanced into the processing plant but no one stopped us. Maybe because Scott was wearing his slightly tight ‘Pizza-A-Round’ shirt and they thought it was perhaps pizza related?
Both of us were taken aback by the huge machinery pulsing and humming through the plant once officially inside. It reminded me of some sort of 50s science fiction movie set.
Scott leaned in close, I could smell the vodka on his breath. “This all looks like some weird shit, Bri, how much does it take to make cottage cheese anyways?”
We decided not to be as bold and crept along crouching (which really really hurt my legs). After wondering through what seemed like a complicated maze of walkways and the such we finally spied some ‘factory workers’. It struck us that these ‘workers’ were wearing protective face masks, lab coats, and gloves. “Christ, Bri, why all the get up? Aren’t they just making some cottage cheese? Can’t they just wear overalls and use their bare hands? Something is wrong here, try and take a shot.”

​The only picture I was able to get!

Not sure if it was the click of my camera or Scott talking too loud but one of the workers turned around.
“Hey! Who’s over there, come out!!”

Scott stood up in full panic mode and drew his gun. “Bri, we gotta get out of here! If they catch us God knows what they will do- I never saw my Uncle again!!”
What??!! Was that what Scott was babbling about in the car? They did something to his Uncle?  Scott fired a few shots to give us cover to escape. I think we didn’t hit anyone, those workers hit the floor pretty quick and I could hear the bullets whizzing off all the machines. I was in full panic but somehow was able to call upon my investigating skills to navigate the way back through the maze. We didn’t waste anytime hightailing it to the parking lot and speeding out barely escaping what was called ‘The Cottage Cheese Industry.’

Editor’s Note- We at the paper would like to mention we have no definite proof of any wrong doing by The Cottage Cheese Industry or if even cottage cheese is to blame for the ill in Deep Northern Suburban Lankville.

PEOPLE OF LANKVILLE: He Gave Me a Rubber Raincoat

May 19, 2017 Leave a comment

Bryant Shrope

LDN: What is your name and where do you work?

BS: My name is Bryant Shrope and I work at the Quick ‘N Tasty Seafood Stall in Almond Beach.

LDN: What do you do there?

BS: We sell popcorn shrimp!

LDN: Do you make the popcorn shrimp?

BS: No. Craig does.

LDN: Who’s Craig?

BS: He’s my favorite friend in the whole world!

LDN: OK, I guess. Let’s move on. What do you do for fun?

BS: I like to play arcade games. They have this one on the boardwalk that’s really fun. It’s called “Alligators” and you’re in this swamp and you have to avoid alligators.

LDN: And then what?

BS: OH! Well, after you avoid the alligators, then there’s some parts of a communication device that you have to find in the swamps. And when you put all the pieces together, then you can make a call to your home base and they come and rescue you! But it’s really hard to find all the parts. I’ve never found all the parts. And Mr. Bollinger, who owns the arcade, he hates me. I don’t know why but he eventually kicks me out and says a lot of cuss words. He told Craig one time that he was in a bamboo cage for a long time during the Depths War and that he’s really bitter because of it and hates young people. One time, he mailed me a really nice candy assortment and it came in a beautiful box with a floral pattern and it looked very fancy but when you opened the box it was just a steaming pile of excrement. My Mom opened it.

LDN: He sounds unpleasant.

BS: OH– he is! One time, I was playing “Alligators” and he took out a knife and said he was going to cut me to ribbons! But then he didn’t and THANK GOD for that!

LDN: Now is it true you got to meet President Pondicherry?

BS: YES, IT IS! He came to the Quick ‘N Tasty! But he didn’t end up ordering anything because he “didn’t like the look of the place”. But he was very nice. He gave me a rubber raincoat.

LDN: Why?

BS: He said it rains a lot and he said I should be prepared.

LDN: OK. Well, thanks for your time.

BS: OH, ABSOLUTELY! This has been a lot of fun, it really has. But I did want to tell you about my pets…right now, I have…

The interviewer suddenly walked off.

Funny Stories by Dick Oakes, Jr.

May 17, 2017 1 comment

By Dick Oakes, Jr.

I woke up on a sweat-stained cot in a shed.

There was a little dust-encrusted window. The light coming through made it look like early evening.

I heard a sound outside the door– it was like a balloon slowly being deflated. Who knew what the hell to make of it.

There was a little portable fridge and it was stocked with nothing but cans of FUN BEER and little plastic containers of soup. I drank two of the beers down and felt a little better.

I pushed the door open. It didn’t come easy. The twilight desert landscape unfolded before me. Off about a hundred feet, there was Tibbs, deflating a beach ball and holding it up to the heavens. It was all hell ridiculous.

MR. OATES! GOOD EVENING, MR. OATES! WOULD YOU LIKE TO MAKE AN OFFERING?

“Think I’ll skip it, Tibbs.”

OH, THAT’S FINE, THAT’S FINE. EACH OF US WILL RECEIVE QUITTANCE UPON DEATH, AFTER ALL! I AM MERELY TRYING TO ACCELERATE THE…WELL, EACH OF US WILL FLOURISH LIKE THE PALM TREE, DON’T YOU THINK?

Tibbs suddenly drew a circle in the sand with a stick. My head was pounding.

“What happened last night, Tibbs? What kind of jackpot are we in here?”

He laughed– the loud, weird booming laugh that petered out into hysteria.

MR. OAKES. LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THE STORAX ROD.

I threw up suddenly against the shed. Tibbs darted forward and held me by the ears, shaking my head from side to side. I pushed him away.

I crawled back into the shed and opened another FUN BEER. I noticed again the open case in the corner– the machine gun and a pile of spent casings. And the thought hit me– maybe not the best idea to hitch your wagon to this guy, Oakes.

After awhile, I went back outside. It was dark now. I saw nothing but could still hear the sound of the beach ball being deflated and Tibbs’ desperate wheezing.

“Tibbs? I…I need to talk.”

OWWWWWWLLLLLLLLLSSSSSSS

“Tibbs?”

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. OOOOOOOOOOOOOO, THE TREASURE OF VIRGINITY, SKY GOD!

Get the hell out of here, get the hell out of here, now I can’t see anything I don’t know where I am I don’t have anything 

THE FIERY PIVOTS ARE TURNING IN MY EARS. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Yes

I took off running towards nothing.

Must have been four hours. Spent and exhausted, I arrived in a sleepy desert town– one main street in darkness with some senseless back roads that went off into oblivion.

Near the end of the town was a two-lane highway that seemed to pop up out of nowhere. And there was a motel with a pool.

I scanned my wallet. $37.

The guy at the counter had a bingo drum and he was spinning it way too fast and calling out the numbers to nobody. There weren’t no sense to any of it.

“Can I get a room for $37?”

He thought about that. It took him awhile.

“Well, on account of us being slow, I guess’n I can accommodate ya.”

“I need…I need to stay for a few days. How about giving me a few chores, little custodial work or something?”

He took his time thinking about that one too. “I guess’n I got some gutters that need cleanin’. Plus, I got this bingo here. Got to keep it spinning but my arms is starting to hurt.”

That wasn’t no good. I had to stay out of sight.

“What about something inside?” I fished.

“Well…I got Mary-Betty for that. She comes five hours a week. Sometimes ten if’n I need help with the bingo wheel.”

“Painting? Interior?”

“Yeah, I guess I could use some painting. Couple of the rooms have mold all over the walls. Tell me, how the hell do you get mold all over the walls in the god damn desert?”

I couldn’t answer that one.

But I slept like a baby that night.

PEOPLE OF LANKVILLE: I Moisten Them in the Morning

May 15, 2017 Leave a comment

Brent McGregor IV

LDN: What is your name and where do you work?

BM: My name is Brent McGregory IV and I manage the Sno-Balls stand on Lankville-Craughing Boulevard.

LDN: What does that entail?

BM: I make Sno-Balls. We have over 50 flavors. When business is slow, I try to get people to stop by hurling myself in front of cars on the Boulevard.

LDN: Have you ever been hurt?

BM: No. Why do you ask?

The Sno-Balls stand on Lankville-Craughing Boulevard.

LDN: Tell me about the nice lot you have where people can enjoy their Sno-Balls.

BM: Sure. It’s a paved lot and we have some picnic tables that I built myself. It borders a very nice gas station and a very nice professional building. Behind the lot is a very nice series of weedy hills and then beyond that is some sort of top-secret government testing facility. I don’t know what they test but I do know this– they DO NOT buy Sno-Balls.

LDN: You built the tables yourself?

BM: Yes. My father built picnic tables for a living. But he died. He was killed in a challenge. I mean, that’s what they told us. Feel like I see him around an awful lot though.

LDN: What about the moistened paper towels? Do you have anything to do with that?

BM: Yes. I moisten them in the morning with the hose pump and then place them in the containers. It helps the kids get the sticky Sno-Balls flavoring off their hands and faces. The parents appreciate it.

LDN: I understand that you met your girlfriend here.

BM: Yes! Her name is Nora. She is a wonderful woman– full of life, so optimistic. Especially for someone who has a wasting sickness that has not been identified. She manages a Sno-Balls stand a few miles away. It’s a very tight-knit community.

LDN: Anything else?

BM: Well, have you heard the Good News?

The interview suddenly ended.

Detective Gee-Temple: The Tibbs Files

May 8, 2017 Leave a comment

Detective Gee-Temple

In April of 2017, The Lankville Daily News began publishing excerpts from the diary of wanted Craughing mass murderer Tibbs Senior, missing since 1967.

Shortly thereafter, I received a request for assistance from the Craughing Area Police Unit (CAPU) in regards to the possibility that Tibbs could still be alive and living in Almond Beach, a once prosperous oceanside community in Eastern Lankville. We knew, of course, of his son Gump, a noted recidivist and Daily News reporter but efforts to discuss Tibbs, Senior with Tibbs, Junior led nowhere. “He is dead to me,” the normally well-mannered son said of his father. “His spirit is a curse and an abomination upon the firmament.” Tibbs, Junior claimed to have none of his father’s personal effects.

A week after the excerpts began appearing in the News, I connected with the East Lankville Beach Police Precinct and was given an exceedingly small file on an individual named “Ferguson Bunts”. The file consisted of three pages, typed on browning onion-skin paper.

“Who is Ferguson Bunts?” I asked.

Sergeant Service, a gaunt, grey man with prominent brows, scratched his chin reflectively.

“He’s a curious individual who appeared in Almond Beach some time around 1967, 1968– prior whereabouts unknown. He purchased one of them so-called luxury villas out in the Almond Beach Prosperity Village. He’s the only one on our books that fits your man’s description and would be the correct age to be this Tibbs.”

I leafed through the file. Three public drunkenness raps. Little else. But there was one recurring detail which leaped out at me.

Subject wearing a white three-piece suit was repeated in all three accounts.

“I think this could be our man,” I proffered. “Course, he would be about 90 years old now.”

“You think he’s still living?” Sergeant Service asked. “Mother of shit.”

Service glanced at the documents and then consulted his Danny Madison Reckoner. “This Bunts is still listed in the white pages. Says he’s still living out in the Almond Beach Prosperity Village. We can ride out there iff’n you want.”

I thanked him for the offer and we set out in the prowler.

The Almond Beach Prosperity Village is located on a stretch of flat, marshy land, a few miles from the ocean. The houses, save for the paint jobs, are all identical one-story cottages with front bay windows, winding cement sidewalks and modest, tasteful shrubbery. Still, the place had aged poorly. It was of another era.

“What’s the population here?” I asked. Service thought about that for awhile.

“Older, I’d say. Maybe you got some young families but they ain’t much good. It ain’t really a vacation hub lik’n it used to be. Peoples tend to stay now in them luxury hotels and condominiums. You gotta’ put the corn down where the cows can get at it, if’n you know what I mean.”

I didn’t. “What does that mean?” I asked.

“What the hell do you mean, what does that mean? It’s a common expression.”

“No it isn’t,” I argued.

“Well, it is,” he responded.

Home of Ferguson Bunts (file photo).

“Listen,” I said. “I want no part of your made-up folksy aphorism. Just drive me out to this address.”

We pulled up to the curb and, just like that, there he was. He was hammering a stake into the middle of his yard– the purpose of the stake eluded me. He was wearing a white, three-piece suit and did not appear to have aged at all– if anything he looked considerably younger. The only conceivable sign of decline was a pearl-handled cane which he leaned on as he hammered but this accessory could have been merely ornamental.

I got out of the car and approached the individual.

“What is your name, sir?”

He looked up. The grey beard in the 1966 photo was now an unearthly black hue.

“WHY HELLO OFFICER. MY NAME IS FERGUSON BUNTS AND I AM A GREAT PROPONENT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT!”

He let out an expansive, booming laugh.

“Mr. Bunts.” I paused. I had to be careful here. “How long have you lived in this house?”

“OH, FOREVER, OFFICER. FOREVER.”

He suddenly let loose with an earth-shaking blow to the stake, driving it completely into the ground.

“MY WORK IN THE FRONT YARD IS NOW COMPLETE,” he announced. He stood up and the pearl-handled cane flashed in the sunlight.

“Mr. Bunts, do you have any sort of identification?”

“INDEED, INDEED I DO OFFICER AND I WOULD BE DELIGHTED TO SHOW IT TO YOU. BUT FIRST, I MUST ASK THE ETERNAL QUESTION– WHAT IS THIS ALL ABOUT?”

I paused again and looked back at the prowler where Service sat with the window rolled up, reading from a lewd pamphlet. I could see that he would be no help whatsoever and I wondered about that.

“Mr. Bunts, you may be aware that a…diary was recently discovered and published in excerpts in The Lankville Daily News. I stopped. His face revealed nothing.

“Anyway, this is simply a routine inquiry into that diary. You see, the man who wrote the diary has been wanted by law enforcement since 1967.”

“WELL, CERTAINLY, HE MUST BE DEAD BY NOW, OFFICER!” he offered in a strangely agreeable and joyous voice.

“He would be of advanced age, yes. But, well, see, the East Lankville Police Precinct returned only one name during our routine inquiry and…well…that name was yours.”

“ISN’T THAT A DELIGHT?” he asked, nearly blinding me with the sunlight caroming off the pearl-handle in a peculiarly strong manner. “BUT I CAN ASSURE YOU, OFFICER, I AM NOT THAT MAN.”

“Did you ever own a hotel, Mr. Bunts?”

Still, his face revealed nothing.

“NO, I’M AFRAID NOT, OFFICER. I FOUNDED AND MAINTAINED A SPORTING GOODS SHOP FOR MANY YEARS. BUT I AM NOW RETIRED.”

I looked again at the meager documents in my hand. I could think of nothing else.

“Thank you for your time, Mr. Bunts. Please stay in the area for the time being.”

“Officer,” he said, in a low, foreboding voice. “I am here. I am always here. As are you. As are all of us.”

I looked back at Service. He had not even bothered to look up.

“Thank you, Mr. Bunts.”

I got back in the prowler.

“Think I can get a warrant on this guy?” I asked.

“Nope,” he said. “Not in a million years.”

“Why?”

He finally looked up and placed the pamphlet on the dashboard. I noticed the title– Lesbian Circus.

“Find out for yerself. Do some digging. See what happens.”

He suddenly slammed the car into drive and we drove away.

Bunts watched us all the way from his porch.

Further Leaves from the Diary of Tibbs Senior

May 4, 2017 Leave a comment

Tibbs Senior, shortly before his disappearance.

5/23/66

The new menus have arrived! They are an unparalleled DELIGHT!

The frontispiece features a most lovely illustration of a mother bird providing regurgitated victuals to her three chicks. I felt it to be most ideal as we tend to view the Murray as a sort of maternal entity providing shelter and sustenance to the weary traveler.

Insolent Gump, of course, did not care for the design. “It’s shit,” he commented, “tho’ I suppose the mindless simpletons to whom we feed grilled prawn and gravy fries will not know the difference between fine art and banal representation.”

The boy is sullen because Shapely Susan has not called today. The spurious pair had a scheme by which they would picnic by the dried-up pond come evening and, no doubt, enjoy jejune coitus. His papa, however, knows that this monstrous convocation has been delayed permanently. As the poet said, and tears but nourish, in your soul…

5/24/66

Set another car on fire at Ellinor Village. Once again, the throng spilled out into the parking lot and I was able to come away with a case of benzos. On my way out of the pharmacy, I noticed a most fetching straw hat hanging on display in the window. “TREAT YOURSELF MR. TIBBS,” I said aloud.

It fit perfectly.

5/25/66

Young Gump sits about the anteroom in a withdrawn manner, scribbling poems into a calfskin notebook.

“Where is your fair maiden today?” I asked. “Bearing her rump for an aggregation of deviants, I surmise?”

He refused comment. Suddenly, Mr. Oakes stumbled into the lobby. The poor wretch– he was most inebriated and was attempting to carry two enormous ceramic owl lamps.

“MR. OAKES,” I called out. “ALLOW GUMP TO ADVANCE THOSE CAPTIVATING OWL LANTERNS FORWARD TO YOUR CHAMBER!”

It was too late. Mr. Oakes lurched forward and the lamps were smashed into a million pieces upon the tile floor.

“Who knows what the hell to make of it?” Oakes uttered, before passing out.

5/27/66

Junior is positively crestfallen.

He has been making desperate phone calls all day pausing only to restate his desire to join the Craughing Expeditionary Force.

After dinner, he announced that he was making a sojourn to the public library. He set out in his battered orange Neptune and I followed close behind. Within minutes, he pulled in back of the Playpen.

“The mountebank!” I cried loudly, nearly blowing my cover.

He entered via the back door which was most heavily guarded by two ruffians. I decided to wait and thusly, removed a bottle of Old Lankville from beneath the seat.

 

Once dark, I slid out of the car and found the familiar duffel bag in the trunk. I crossed the alley and entered a most forlorn stairwell leading upstairs to a series of shabby apartments. Number 14 faced the alley.

I removed a most curious device from the duffel bag. Indeed, I had purchased it many eons ago, out of the back of a gaudy comic magazine. It had somehow defied time and remained a most prized tool. By the simple press of a button, suction with the power of a tornado (as it was once advertised) tore the lock straight from its moorings.

A man with uncombed hair and a filthy tank top slowly rose from a chair. “This is my…” but I daresay, he could not finish his sentence. The .22 split his face in half. I pushed the corpse behind a hamper, killed the lights, and set up a nocturnal watch upon the Playpen.

Hours later, the rear door of the Playpen was violently pushed open and Junior was tossed unceremoniously to the curb.

“THE GOLD GOBLET FULL OF THE IMPURITIES OF YOUR IMMORALITY SHALL OVERFLOW!” the juvenile cried out drunkenly.  I raced downstairs.

Two thugs stood over the spawn. “Listen you! Get the ____ out of here or we’ll tear ya’ apart!”

“GENTLEMEN,” I said, skipping lightly across the alley. “GENTLEMEN, I THINK THIS MOST DISAGREEABLE SITUATION MAY BE RESOLVED FORTHWITH. ALLOW ME TO INTERVENE.”

I got Gump to his feet. “MAKE A MOST HASTY RETREAT TO THE CAR, YOUNG GUMP.”

I smiled at the men. Then, I leaned in close.

gentlemen…you are no doubt familiar with Satan’s pony?

They each took a step back.  One said, “you look familiar.”

“NO, I’M AFRAID NOT GENTLEMEN. YOUR ADVERSARY, SATAN’S PONY, PROWLS AROUND YOU, LOOKING FOR SOMEONE TO DEVOUR.”

do we understand each other gentlemen?

I knew I would have no further trouble. I drove Gump home.

Further Leaves from the Diary of Tibbs Senior

May 1, 2017 Leave a comment

Tibbs Senior, shortly before his disappearance.

5/20/66

Saucy Young Gump has become most imperious.

This morning, he pushed over a cart of linens.

“These sperma-stained bedclothes toppled here in the mezzanine, if you will, represent my contempt for this revolting hostel,” he stated.

I removed my belt but the lad was quicker and tore it from the loops with great alacrity.

“I see the tables have turned, Father,” he said, a glint of cruelty in his eye. “Perhaps, indeed, I should tan you. I wonder if a man, if he possessed a certain archery, could maneuver a strap deep into the recesses of another man’s hinterlands.”

I could stand no more. I sallied forth to the kitchen and began mindlessly pushing a spoon through a pan of scrambled eggs. The profligate son had unnerved me, there could be no question.

Later, the boy approached me again in the anteroom, that same glint in his eye.

“Father, do you recall how earlier I was speaking of the hinterlands?” he asked.

Stunned, I could offer no response.

“Well, I have just probed them, tho’ not with a belt.”

At that, Shapely Susan appeared, appropriately enough, behind him in the darkened chamber.

He let out a booming laugh.

When I returned to my room that night, I made some notes upon the vellum and then burned them in the fireplace.

There would be no need for any evidence. They were now clear in my mind.

5/22/66

The Playpen is located on a stretch of mean, seedy structures on the outskirts of town– edifices which stand in stark contrast to the natural beauty of the surrounding desert landscape. It is illuminated by a garish flickering neon sign and a small contingent of goons stand alertly around its entrance.

I parked across the street and surveyed the scene for nearly an hour.

Then, I made my approach.

“Gentlemen, gentlemen. I wonder if you could tell me if your most enchanting artista de striptease Shapely Susan is performing tonight?”

“You like her Pops?” said one of the thugs. “Got an ass that won’t quit, am I right?

I grimaced momentarily but affixed the affable smile back upon my countenance.

“Oh, you are indeed right, my friend. It is a most agreeable posterior, there can be no arguing that. But, pray tell, what time will she be treading the boards, if you will?

“What the hell is this guy talking about?” one of the other delinquents called out senselessly.

“Pops, I think she goes on in 20 minutes. Now, if you want to see her exotic dance, you gotta’ pay ten dollars.”

“NO PRICE IS TOO HIGH GENTLEMEN,” I boomed out. “WHAT A DELIGHT THIS WILL BE!” And I removed a ten from my calfskin wallet.

“Sure will, Pops. Nobody gets the tent pole raised like Shapely Susan.”

 

I entered the den of iniquity. There were several round tables in front of a miserable, poorly-lit stage and a worn and tattered red velvet curtain hung limply closed across it. The patrons were most deplorable and there was a fetid smell of smoke, inexpensive hops and unlaundered clothing about the room. I approached the bar.

I shall choose not to put down the sorrowful particulars of the show that followed except to say that it was most foul. Nonetheless, the assembled seemed to enjoy it immensely and threw many a bill upon the stage. When the pasties were finally removed, the roar was nigh-maniacal.

During this most outrageous spectacle, I had noticed a door to the left of the stage and immediately following the strumpet’s program, I made for it. It was a darkened, carpeted hallway which turned towards the right and appeared to go behind the stage. As I made this turn, I ran into a white-suited bruiser who appeared to be guarding a series of dressing rooms.

“Hey, man, you…”

I removed the .22 with the optional silencer from my suit jacket pocket and shot him in the face. He collapsed against the wall and a pool of blood and gore expanded beneath him. I stood for a moment and listened beyond the wall. Faintly, I heard the canned trumpet music and the hoots of the debauched aggregation.

I began calmly opening doors until Shapely Susan appeared before me. She was slathering her cheeks with foundation before a most distasteful and garish mirror.

“What…you come to see my show Big Daddy?”

“I have indeed, dear. I have indeed. And this delightful proscaenium. I am impressed that you have secured such an engagement.”

“Who? What you talking about Big Daddy? I ain’t understanding them words.”

I laughed and removed the .22. She dropped the foundation sponge.

“I’d like you to come with me, dear. Get your coat made, no doubt, of some trapped mammal.”

We left by the back door.

 

“You gonna’ blast me, Pops?” she said, once I had turned the car out onto the desert road. “What for? Cause Gumpy did me up the butt?”

“I’d like to request that you not speak, my dear, especially of such…endeavors.”

“Can I play the radio then?” she said.

“My dear, I’ll be driving you to the crossing. There, you will take a bus into the Lankville Outlands. If you are amenable to this assignment, then we shall have no problem. And, of course, you will receive a most magnanimous remuneration.”

“Daddy, I can’t understand them words.”

I laughed heartily.

 

Two hours later, we reached the crossing. I parked along the riverbank and watched the customs guard in the booth above. He was asleep.

“Now, here in this case, my dear, is a thousand dollars. You will take this and walk along the right foot bridge into Lankville. Do not come back.”

“A thousand clams, huh, Daddy? What, you want to sack out or somethin’?”

“YOU ABOMINABLE CRETIN!” I shouted. I began breathing heavily. “Listen, I want you to disappear. Do not come back to Craughing, do you understand?”

She looked at me for an interminable period. It was as though the idea was coursing slowly through her brain.

“Yeah, I guess I get it, Daddy. Why you want to keep me and Gumpy apart?”

“JUST GO, TART!”

She opened the door. I watched her traverse the foot bridge into Lankville. The guard never woke up.

It was near morning when I returned to the Murray and finished this entry.

The Diary of Tibbs Senior will continue in future issues.

The Street Scoop by Otis Nixon

April 29, 2017 Leave a comment

By Otis Nixon

For many years, a short row of parking meters have been located along the 2900 block of Everbrown Avenue, just across from the Lankville Equitable Bank in the Snowy Lake District. Of the few residents who noticed they were there, no one could remember why they had been installed in the first place. To our surprise, when The Lankville Daily News contacted the Lankville Parking and Curbs Authority, they didn’t know why either.

“I pulled some giant tomes off shelves,” noted LPCA employee Jean Stargell. “There was nothing in any of them about any parking meters.”

Just like that, with a simple question from The News, the meters will be no more by summer.

“The process essentially involves beheading the meters and then leaving the posts up for a year or two and then taking the posts down,” noted Stargell. “Or maybe not.”

After speaking with Stargell for a few more moments, I was able to glean some information about her whereabouts. Utilizing the Lankville Real Property Data Digital Workstation, I discovered her home address.

I picked up a six-pack of beer and a pack of short cigars and drove to the house at dusk. Indeed, a squat, shapeless woman was outside watering some dead ferns. A radio played somewhere deep inside the house. I cracked open a beer and watched Jean– I watched her until darkness fell. When she finally went inside, I got out of the car.

There was a little area in between the wraparound porch and the dining room bay window where I could lurk unseen. An overhead maple shielded me from the neighbors. At one point, a strange-looking man wandered by aimlessly, walking a little puffball dog and whispering, “C’mon now Hugs. C’mon. C’mon Hugs. Please urinate, Hugs.” But he didn’t see me.

I am still lurking.